Monday, February 04, 2013

PBS one-hour report "After Newtown" (from Dec. 2012)

On Dec. 21, 2012, PBS aired a one hour special “After Newtown”, as a combination of efforts from Frontline, Nova, Newshour, and other series, hosted by Gwen Ifill.

Gwen started the show by interviewing Todd Purdum (Vanity Fair), Peter Baker (New York Times), and Alexis Simendinger (Real Clear Politics).

Then the program went into the neuroscience, with Josh Buckholtz and Steven Pinker from Harvard. The case of Whitman, and the Austin Texas shooting in 1965, was discussed: Whitman had asked that his brain be autopsied, and a small tumor was found near the amygdala.  The professors suggested that in some people the wiring between the cerebral cortex and amygdala is weak. The show broadcast an interview with Kip Kinkel, serving life in prison without parole after shootings in Oregon in 1998. Kinkel talked about hearing voices and sounded morose. This was very hard to listen to. 

Watch After Newtown on PBS. See more from After Newtown.
Later the program interviewed Larry Pratt from the NRA, and Pratt made the usual case for the absolute right to self-defense, and the libertarian position that the government should not regulate personal behavior with guns. 
This program was broadcast right after Wayne LaPierre had made his “good guy bad guy” remarks at an NRA Press Conference.
Jeff Greenfield also spoke about the way the press is getting facts wrong right after incidents, because of the pressure from social media. For example, the press initially reported Ryan, rather than his younger brother Adam, as the shooter, and said that Mrs. Lanza had taught at the school, which she hadn’t.
I think it’s important to get into the motives of the perpetrators.  It seems as though Mrs. Lanza had tried to teach Adam to use guns to make him a “man” and then had indoctrinated him with “Doomsday Prepper” ideology, and perhaps the end of the world on Dec. 21.  That could have set someone unstable off, as believing there was “nothing to lose” in showing contempt.  NBC has never disclosed the details about what the Va. Tech shooter sent to the company. The media is kept from knowing much about James Holmes, but it seems particularly chilling that he had been studying neuroscience, and there seems to be some evidence that he had started purchasing weapons several months before the July 2012 incident.  If there is a trial, all of this will come out; if there is a plea bargain, then it might not.  I think the public needs to know the full story.
PBS will air a program “What Next After Newtown?”.   

It's rather shocking how many parents don't lock up their (legally owned) guns when kids can get them.  On the other hand, when I was a boy, my father had a 22 rifle, usually in the basement (unloaded, but there was ammo somewhere), and I never gave it any thought.  I don't know what became of it.

Update: Feb 19:

A subsequent Frontline episode demonstrated the plastic rifle, which can be manufactured in an unregulated fashion with 3-D printers, and will be available soon.  This would confound regulatory laws.

There was also discussion of the ease with which criminals get guns in Chicago, despite the strictest gun control laws in the country.  75% of the victims of gun violence in Chicago are black. When a youth has been shot once, the expected time until being shot again (usually in gang activity) is nine months.

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